"Never give up. If you don't give up, you will find supporters who will help you. I think you can see that from this story."
- Game designer Tomonobu Itagaki.
After roughly eight years in development, Valhalla Game Studios' debut game Devil's Third was published by Nintendo on the Wii U last year and received a lukewarm reception.
Despite that, the studio has been finishing up work on a free-to-play version of the game that it expects to publish on PC with Nexon's help this year. In a new interview published on Polygon, Devil's Third director Tomonobu Itagaki opens up about why the game took so long, how the team dealt with production challenges (like losing THQ as a publisher) and how he feels about the critical reception to a project he spent 8+ years on.
"I just don't care about reviews anymore," said Itagaki, who previously helped create Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden during a lengthy stint at Tecmo. "I've been in this business for 25, 26 years now. When we released Dead or Alive, the Japanese game industry called it 'Dead or Dead' at first. But, as you know, it went on to be a hit. Ninja Gaiden's code name during development was 'Kunai' [the name of a ninja's weapon] and critics called it 'Yarita-kunai,' which translates to 'I don't want to play' in English."
As Itagaki (rightly) points out, both games became cult hits that spawned enduring franchises. Now he seems optimistic about the chances Devil's Third will do the same, and encourages developers to "never give up." However, now that he's working on a PC game he seems less optimistic about the chances of video game consoles remaining a going concern for much longer.
"The PC allows me to have direct access to the users, and I'm very comfortable with that right now. That's why Microsoft rolled out Windows 10, even though it was a little forced. They're going to gain a billion users," Itagaki said. "If 5 percent of those billion users can play games, that's still 50 million users. Compare that to the install base of console users. The end of console systems is within five years."
You can read more of his comments on the long, strange journey of Devil's Third and his thoughts on being a somewhat public figure ("I've been warned by Okamoto that I need to stop partying with my fans. Especially since the company is going to go public soon,") in the full interview over on Polygon.